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Extended Audio Sample A Reunion of Ghosts: A Novel, by Judith Claire Mitchell Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Judith Claire Mitchell Narrator: Kirsten Potter, William Charlto Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A compulsively readable literary masterpiece, A Reunion of Ghosts is the shared confessional of three sisters who have decided to kill themselves at the end of the twentieth century, honoring the dark legacy that has haunted their extraordinary family for decades.

How do three sisters write a single suicide note?

In the waning days of 1999, the Alter sisters—Lady, Vee, and Delph—finalize their plans to end their lives. Their reasons are not theirs alone; they are the last in a long line of Alters who have killed themselves, beginning with their great-grandmother, the wife of a Jewish Nobel Prize–winning chemist who developed the first poison gas used in World War I and the lethal agent used in Third Reich gas chambers. The chemist himself, their son Richard, and Richard’s children all followed suit.

The childless sisters also define themselves by their own bad luck. Lady, the oldest, never really resumed living after her divorce. Vee is facing cancer’s return. And Delph, the youngest, is resigned to a spinster’s life of stifled dreams. But despite their pain they love each other fiercely, and share a darkly brilliant sense of humor.

As they gather in the ancestral Upper West Side apartment to close the circle of the Alter curse, an epic story about four generations of one family—inspired in part by the troubled life of German-Jewish Fritz Haber, Nobel Prize winner and inventor of chlorine gas—unfolds. A Reunion of Ghosts is a magnificent tale of fate and blood, sin and absolution; partly a memoir of sisters unified by a singular burden, partly an unflinching eulogy of those who have gone before, and above all a profound commentary on the events of the twentieth century.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A rich portrait of a complicated family, at turns violent and hilarious, shot through with love and death and the scars that reappear generation after generation.”

    Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Mitchell explores the mixed-blessing bonds of family with wry wit. This original tale is black comedy at its best.”


  • “Mitchell’s splendidly dark and comic novel…is a very funny book but it is also tender, somber, and thought provoking.”

    Financial Times (London)

  • “Mitchell’s plot, which twists in unexpected but believable ways…is thoroughly satisfying, but it’s the tone of her novel—that ability to savor joy and sorrow at the same time—that makes it remarkable.”

    Columbus Dispatch

  • “Mitchell’s triumphant second novel explores love, identity, and the burdens of history in coruscating, darkly comic prose…Moving nimbly through time and balancing her weightier themes with the sharply funny, fiercely unsentimental perspectives of her three protagonists…[this novel is] poignant and pulsing with life force.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Mitchell’s masterful family saga is as funny as it is aching…For the Alters, life has been a seemingly endless series of tragedies; for us, the tragedy is that this stunning novel inevitably comes to an end.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Kirsten Potter captures the Alter sisters in this skillfully written, quick-witted novel. With her well-modulated tones and even pacing, Potter’s portrayals of sisters Lady, Vee, and Delph Alter, with their tight family bond and inherited guilt, are distinctive and energetic…William Charlton delivers the final section, from the point of view of Danny Smoke, the Alter sisters’ cousin…With engaging narrators and an intriguing story, listeners will be spellbound to the very end. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “An engrossing, darkly humorous story with thought-provoking themes that will linger after the last page is turned.”


  • “Mitchell presents the sisters sympathetically in this clever, modern tale that somehow also hearkens back to Albert Einstein, Walt Whitman, and a host of unusual, lively memorable characters…This serious study of a very odd family has its darkly humorous side.”

    Library Journal

  • “Mitchell has created a family drowning under the weight of the twentieth century. Inspired in part by the life of German chemist Fritz Haber, this novel is a carefully crafted, thought-provoking examination of history past and present as seen through the eyes of a complex yet humble family.”


  • A BookPage Top Pick for April 2015
  • A People Pick of the Week
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
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About the Author

Judith Claire Mitchell, author of the novel The Last Day of the War, is an English professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she directs the MFA program in creative writing. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Judy has received fellowships from the James A. Michener / Copernicus Society, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and elsewhere. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, the artist Don Friedlich.